Who Killed Local Autonomy in the U.S.?

Once upon a time, local governments accounted for the lion's share of economic policy-making in the United States. Before World War I, not only was the federal government's economic policy-making activity strictly limited to areas such as international trade, management of federal lands, trust-busting, and food and drug regulation, but state governments themselves were also … Continue reading Who Killed Local Autonomy in the U.S.?

The Difficult Path to Recovery

Events in Europe should give us pause, as Eric Dash and Nelson D. Schwartz note in “Crisis in Europe Tightens Credit Across Globe.” (NYT) Europe’s worsening sovereign debt crisis has spread beyond its banks and the spillover now threatens businesses on the Continent and around the world. From global airlines and shipping giants to small manufacturers, … Continue reading The Difficult Path to Recovery

How Can Germans Accept This Possible Outcome?

Consider the source of the comment, but a New York Times report yesterday on the Eurozone crisis had this gem: Bernard Connolly, a persistent critic of Europe, estimates it would cost Germany, as the main surplus-generating country in the euro area, about 7 percent of its annual gross domestic product over several years to transfer sufficient funds to … Continue reading How Can Germans Accept This Possible Outcome?

National Security Experts on Iran

In case you think only "isolationist" thinkers are opposed to using military force against Iran due to its nuclear weapons program, it is noteworthy that a slim majority (52%) of national security experts polled by National Journal believe that strikes should "not be carried out under any circumstances, despite a recent U.N. nuclear-watchdog report providing evidence … Continue reading National Security Experts on Iran

Sunday Morning Quotation – Jon Huntsman on Iran, Israel, and Nuclear Weapons

Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman during the foreign policy debate this past week: His -- history will tell. We missed the Persian spring. The president failed on that front. We go into Libya, where, to my mind, we don't have any definable American interests. We've got Syria now on the horizon, where we do have American interests. It's … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Jon Huntsman on Iran, Israel, and Nuclear Weapons

The hard-liner

One of the interesting stories to come out of the pathetic NBA lockout (apparently the sides have just reached an agreement, finally) is that the most hard-line of all the hard-line owners is NBA legend and current Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan.  He reportedly wanted players to accept a 37% share of basketball related income … Continue reading The hard-liner

More U.S. Taxpayer-Funded Repression

The latest from Egypt: "I was in Tahrir Square during the 25 January revolution and I saw a lot of injured people, but this time I think there are more serious injuries," says Dr Omar Qassar who is working on makeshift premises. "I've seen two people hit by shotgun pellets in their chest and abdomen. … Continue reading More U.S. Taxpayer-Funded Repression

Just kill the turkey, please

Pres. Obama has, for another year, partaken in the bipartisan tradition of pardoning the official White House turkeys.   He also has the tradition of trotting out his cute daughters to help in this annoying ritual.   They make for good photos.  Turkeys, on the other hand, look much better nicely browned and glazed. Of … Continue reading Just kill the turkey, please

Sex, Luck and Distributive Justice

If ‘status anxiety’ is as big a threat to individual well-being as many egalitarians seem to think then logically they should favour the equalisation of opportunities based on physical attractiveness as well as those based on income. Policies focussed solely on ‘correcting’ the income distribution may simply intensify the significance of physical attractiveness or other … Continue reading Sex, Luck and Distributive Justice

Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

This is the underlying message from Bruce Bartlett (FT). Basic argument: unlike Europe, the US already has the policies in place to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio.  On the revenue side, the Bush/Obama tax cuts are scheduled to expire and the alternative minimum tax continues to affect more taxpayers. Absent an extension of cuts and annual … Continue reading Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

NYS Supreme Court Judicially Amends the State Constitution

The New York Constitution prohibits pork-barrel spending and corporate welfare: government money for private projects. Here's what the clause says: [T]he money of the state shall not be given or loaned to or in aid of any private corporation or association, or private undertaking. Couldn't be clearer, right? Wrong. The state supreme court today ruled … Continue reading NYS Supreme Court Judicially Amends the State Constitution

Sunday Morning Quotation – Admiral Mullen on Debt and National Defense

Even though I think former CJCS Admiral Mullen was out of his lane commenting on such a critical political issue while in uniform, Republicans who claim to be strong on national defense would still be wise to heed his words from last year that are still relevant to the budget fight:  The most significant threat to … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Admiral Mullen on Debt and National Defense

George Will – Elizabeth Price Foley vs. ObamaCare

Nice to see our own Elizabeth Price Foley get such good press in George Will's Washington Post op-ed on ObamaCare and the limits of Congressional power.  A choice section: Silberman’s distinction between interpreting the scope of a government power and recognizing a right is spurious because rights begin where powers end. So argues Florida International University’s Elizabeth Price Foley, … Continue reading George Will – Elizabeth Price Foley vs. ObamaCare

AidData 2.0

For a few years now, I have been involved with a group of scholars developing the world's best and most comprehensive database on foreign development assistance.  This project is known as AidData.org. This week we are excited to launch AidData 2.0.  Here are a few of the highlights: A brand-new AidData Research Brief series, which … Continue reading AidData 2.0

The Intellectual Dissolution of the Left

The media has been having a field day with the anti-intellectualism exhibited by the top Republican candidates for President. Herman Cain’s recent claim (“We need a leader, not a reader”) is the most recent bit of evidence. Fair enough. But is there anything to suggest that the left has raised the intellectual bar? Not according … Continue reading The Intellectual Dissolution of the Left

Romney, ObamaCare, and Federalism

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney isn't running or even "walking" away from the health care plan he helped enact in Massachusetts while governor of that deep blue commonwealth.*  Indeed, he recently had this to say about it on Fox News:      If it hurts me politically, it’s a consequence of the truth. I am not going to walk away from that. … Continue reading Romney, ObamaCare, and Federalism

If the Super Committee is successful, will anyone notice?

The drama continues as the Super Committee approaches its deadline next week. It seems as if much of the GOP rank-and-file would prefer $1.2 trillion in sequestration to additional taxation. Democrats, it would appear, would prefer sequestration over entitlement cuts without taxation. As a piece on Politico notes: There isn’t a shred of bill language circulating publicly … Continue reading If the Super Committee is successful, will anyone notice?

The Ron Paul Surge?

Recent polls have Ron Paul at 19% in Iowa (where turnout is traditionally low) and 17% in New Hampshire (where turnout is usually very high). And I found this interesting: Paul’s contact rate with voters is the only one that matches Romney’s, at 52 percent in New Hampshire. The rate at which his campaign is … Continue reading The Ron Paul Surge?

Thinking about Gingrich?

1994 seemed like the start of a great era for limited government conservatives, and Newt Gingrich played a big part in giving many hope that the rhetoric of the Reagan Revolution would finally be matched with substantial policy changes.  But hope, as we now well know, doesn't get you very far if you really want change.  The … Continue reading Thinking about Gingrich?

Do we really need a principled president?

A few days ago, Erick Erickson at Red State wrote a dispiriting assessment of Mitt Romney, saying that he will 1) win the nomination; 2) lose to Obama; 3) kill conservatism. Now, the first of these will probably happen, the second might happen, and the third seems more than a bit of a stretch.  It … Continue reading Do we really need a principled president?

Sunday Morning Quotation – Nuclear Spread and Iran

Given the IAEA's report this week, we should ask ourselves the counterintuitive question (for most) of whether Iran's development of nuclear weapons might actually be a good thing for the region.  Here is distinguished international relations professor and nuclear spread optimist Kenneth Waltz on the problem of radical states getting nuclear weapons in his important book with Stanford … Continue reading Sunday Morning Quotation – Nuclear Spread and Iran

The Government Bubble Pops (updated)

Events in the Eurozone are unfolding at a more rapid pace than ever, with even the normally staid Economist warning that the Eurozone might break up, with "horrible" consequences. Indeed, while a Greek default might not spell disaster for global finance and might not even require Greece's exit from the euro, Italy is the third-largest … Continue reading The Government Bubble Pops (updated)

Trouble for Santorum

Here is a paragraph from a piece in today’s Politico: For Santorum, there is the prospect of damaging political fallout: On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that, while serving in the Senate, Santorum sponsored Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State defense coordinator at the heart of the scandal, for a “Congressional Angels in Adoption” award, … Continue reading Trouble for Santorum

The Question of Upward Mobility

Scott Winship has an interesting essay (lead story in this week’s print National Review but also available here) entitled “Mobility Impaired: The American Dream Must Move From the Bottom Up.” This is an issue that seems quite important to my students, many of whom are wondering whether the $50k+ per year education will bear fruit. … Continue reading The Question of Upward Mobility

Taxes and the Super Committee

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seems pretty convinced that the Super Committee is going to fail and the blame will fall with the Republicans. As he predicted recently: “I don’t think the Super Committee is going to succeed because our Republican colleagues have said ‘no net revenues…When Democrats move too far left, we lose. We’re now … Continue reading Taxes and the Super Committee

The Onion or Reality?

From the Heritage Foundation yesterday: President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees. When I first read this story, I thought for a second it was an Onion-like spoof … Continue reading The Onion or Reality?

IAEA Report on Iran

The report is out.  Here is a link.  More on this soon.  Here is a key paragraph from the summary: The Agency has serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. After assessing carefully and critically the extensive information available to it, the Agency finds the information to be, overall, credible. The information … Continue reading IAEA Report on Iran

Where You Live in the U.S. Is a Consumption Good, Part Two

I thought I would throw in a little economic research to support Grover Cleveland's point: Based on a panel of quality of life and business environment measures, households prefer MSAs in warm coastal areas and non-metropolitan locations, while firms prefer large, growing cities. In addition, cities with improving business environments acquire increasing shares of workers, … Continue reading Where You Live in the U.S. Is a Consumption Good, Part Two

More on Choice

A few thoughts on Grover’s posting and the related posts that will not fit in the comment box but might prove interesting since it really touches on a core question: is everything a choice? First, everyone faces tradeoffs and every decision carries opportunity costs. We make explicit and implicit adjustments at the margin to try … Continue reading More on Choice

Sunday Quotation – Where You Live in the US is a Consumption Choice

This might be obvious to our intelligent readers.  But it is worth noting since it is so frequently overlooked.  From Megan McArdle: Living in a blue state is a choice.  If coming to New York meant that you had to put four people in a three bedroom apartment that's uncomfortably far from a subway line, … Continue reading Sunday Quotation – Where You Live in the US is a Consumption Choice

Left-Libertarian Economics: Response to Carson

Kevin Carson was good enough to drop by and comment on my posts about his book, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy (here and here). I copy the comments below with my responses: (Kevin) Thanks again, Jason. In general, I don’t think any paradigms are falsifiable; you can add epicycles to anything. And I think a … Continue reading Left-Libertarian Economics: Response to Carson

Difficult for Me to Think Anything but “Fool” – Another Occupier Gives the Movement a Bad Name

Certainly those participating in the Occupy movement are a diverse group of individuals.  But stories like this from the Nation only suggest that a fair number of them have to be absolute fools or at best adult-sized children: A few years ago, Joe Therrien, a graduate of the NYC Teaching Fellows program, was working as a full-time drama … Continue reading Difficult for Me to Think Anything but “Fool” – Another Occupier Gives the Movement a Bad Name

Let the Forecasting Season Begin

One highlight of presidential elections is the forecasts and the technical debates over why one model is potentially superior to others. For those who are starting to think of 2012--and the forecasts--Nate Silver (“Is Obama Toast? Handicapping the 2012 Election,” NYT) provides an entertaining tutorial on forecasting and walks through a simple model which takes … Continue reading Let the Forecasting Season Begin

Briefly Noted

Libertarianism.org - Finally! A non-technical, one-stop shop for the major ideas in the philosophical tradition of liberty. Cato Institute project. Governance Without a State: Policies and Politics in Areas of Limited Statehood (Columbia UP) - File under "order in anarchy." Mostly European scholars giving somewhat different takes than you get with the UK-US "economics of … Continue reading Briefly Noted

Footballers and the Top 1%

I looked today at some data on the changes in top division/Premier League footballers (soccer players for Americans) pay between 1985 and 2010 here in the UK. According to figures compiled by the Professional Footballers Association average pay increased from £1000 per week in 1985 to £33,000 per week in 2010 – an increase of … Continue reading Footballers and the Top 1%